By Eldon MacDonald
80. Nathan Lieuwen - “Mr. Never-too-late” - G – Canada
Vitals: Size - 6’5”, 191 lb.; Shoots left; Born 8-Aug-91 - Abbotsford, BC
Team: Kootenay, WHL
2010-11 Stats: 55-3-2.79-.903 + WHL playoffs 19-3-2.24-.923
80 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
169 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
Unranked - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings
167 - Buffalo Sabres
As Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And it was almost over this year for Nathan Lieuwen, he had been by-passed twice in the draft and had a so-so 2010-11 regular season with a record of 55-3-2.79-.903 but then came the playoffs and Mr. Lieuwen and his Kootenay Ice went on a tear. The first round was not too surprising as the 4th place Ice (East) beat 5th place Moose Jaw 4 games to 2. But then they shocked everyone by sweeping 1st place (East) Saskatoon and followed it up by sweeping 3rd place (East) Medicine Hat and then besting a stacked Portland team (1st in west) in only five. Overall, Mr. Lieuwen went on a 16-3 run and posted a 19-3-2.24-.923 record, not bad for a left over.
So why wasn’t he drafted before? Well in 2007 Nathan suffered a serious concussion when he was a passenger in a car that rolled over and the effects lingered well into the 2008-09 season and he ended the year with only a .885 save percentage. And in 2009-10 Nathan suffered another serious injury when he collided with Troy Rutkowski and ended the year unspectacularly with a.896 save percentage. And 2010-11 was hardly any better with a .903 save percentage. And the 2010-11 playoffs didn’t look like they would be any better as Nathan had just an .844 save percentage in the first three games of the playoffs. After that, the lights went on and it was show time for Mr. Lieuwen and what a show it was!!!
Where Nathan Liuwen goes in this year’s draft is anybody’s guess but with the lack of any non-risky goalie prospects after the big four (the two Gibson’s, Hellberg, and Perhonen), I am going to go out on a limb and state that I expect to hear Nathan Lieuman’s name called relatively early in the draft, maybe even third round. And why not, a 6’5 guy with ability and agility that takes up a lot of net isn’t too easy to find and success is success no matter how late it comes. Good luck at the Memorial Cup Nathan and do Yogi proud!!!